Tree ring research on conifers in the Alps
Dendroecology, dendroclimatology and climatic studies

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Decreasing teleconnections with inter-site distance in monthly climatic data and tree-ring width networks in a mountainous Alpine area

AUTHOR Christian Rolland (1)

Theoretical and Applied Climatology Theoretical and Applied Climatology
Publisher: Springer-Verlag Wien ISSN: 0177-798X (Paper) 1434-4483 (Online)
DOI: 10.1007/s704-002-8208-1
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 Issue: Volume 71, Numbers 1-2
Date:  January 2002 - Pages: 63 - 75
  • TITRE Décroissance des télé-connections entre sites dans les données climatiques mensuelles, et dans des réseaux de largeurs de cernes de croissance situés dans une région montagneuse Alpine.
  • LANGUAGE English
  • SUBJECT Climatology, dendrochronology, dendroclimatology.
  • SITES South-Eastern France, Italy (Trentino - Upper Adige)

The similarities in time series recorded at sites which are distant from each other are called teleconnections. In this paper, the loss of such correlations with inter-site distance was investigated for both climatic and dendrochronological data sets, with 70 tree-ring chronologies. A dense network of weather stations was studied in the southeastern French Alps, covering complex climatic gradients over three departments. 78 sites with precipitation data (with a total of 48 756 monthly values), and 48 stations that recorded temperature (with 20 722 monthly mean values) were analysed. In the same area, four coniferous species (mountain pine and stone pine, European larch and Norway spruce) provided 37 ring-width chronologies for high elevation sites near the timberline. Both silver fir and Norway spruce provided a second tree-ring chronology network for 33 different sites at lower elevations.

The teleconnections between precipitation series were found to be higher than those observed for temperature over short distances, but the maximum threshold distance was lower (193 km) compared to a positive correlation distance that exceeds 500 km for temperature. The maximum temperatures had stronger teleconnections than minimum values (522 km versus 476 km), since the latter are linked more with other site factors, such as slope, exposure and local topography.

As expected, the tree-ring chronologies showed weaker teleconnections than the climatic series, with a threshold distance of 374 km obtained for all high elevation forests. The coniferous species with high intra-specific teleconnections over large distances were, in decreasing importance, Pinus uncinata (> 500 km), Picea abies (477 km), Pinus cembra (over 254 km) and Larix decidua (over 189 km only). The two former species showed the highest intra-specific correlations (with mean correlation R=0.625 and 0.666). The dendrochronological teleconnections were found to have a extent lesser for trees species that depend on rainfall (such as larch, and stone pine). They are enhanced, however, for temperature sensitive species such as spruce and mountain pine (a drought resistant tree). Therefore, these two latter conifers appear to be especially suitable for climatic reconstruction over large distances in mountainous areas. However, teleconnections within silver fir (Abies alba) and spruce chronologies were sharply reduced (over 131 km and 135 km) in lower elevation forests, underlining the interest of timberline forests for dendroclimatology.

A better knowledge of the spatial correlations in climatic series and ring-width data may enable the optimisation of weather station networks. It may also permit a better choice of weather stations used for dendroclimatology, either for tree-ring and climate relationship calibration or for climate reconstructions. In dendrochronology, wood dating also requires the knowledge of to what extent remote ring-width chronologies can be used.



(1) Centre de Biologie Alpine, Laboratoire Ecosystèmes Alpins, Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, France